IV. Passports. Custom-House. Luggage.
Passports, though not required in Italy, are occasionally useful.
Registered letters, for example, will not be delivered to strangers,
unless they exhibit a passport to prove their identity. The count¬
enance and help of the English and American consuls can, of course,
be extended to those persons only who can prove their nationality.
In thn remote neighbourhoods, too, where the public safety de¬
mands a more rigorous supervision, the traveller is sometimes asked
for his credentials, but this remark is scarely necessary in regard to
the districts embraced in this volume of the Handbook. The Italian
police authorities are generally civil and obliging.
Custom-House. The examination of luggage at the Italian
custom-houses is generally lenient. Tobacco and cigars are the ar¬
ticles chiefly sought for. At the gates of most of the Italian towns
a tax (dazio consumo) is levied on comestibles, but travellers'
luggage is passed at the barriers (limite daziario) on a simple
declaration that it contains no such articles.
Luggage. If possible, luggage should never be sent to Italy
by goods-train, as it is liable to damage , pilferage, and undue
custom-house detention. If the traveller is obliged to forward it in
this way, he should employ a trustworthy agent at the frontier and
send him the keys. As a rule it is advisable, and often in the end
less expensive , never to part from one's luggage, and to super¬
intend the custom-house examination in person.
Begging, which was countenanced and encouraged under the
old system of Italian politics, still continues to be one of those na¬
tional nuisances to which the traveller must habituate himself. The
present government has adopted energetic measures for its suppres¬
sion, but hitherto with only partial success. The average Italian
beggar is a mere speculator, and not a deserving object of charity.
The traveller should therefore decline to give anything, with the
words, 'non e'e niente', or a gesture of refusal. If a donation be
bestowed, it should consist of the smallest possible copper coin.
A beggar, who on one occasion was presented with 2c. and thanked
the donor with the usual benedictions, was on another presented
with 50 c. , but this act of liberality, instead of being gratefully
accepted, only called forth the remark in a half-offended tone;
'Ma, Signore, e molto poco !'
VI. Prices and Gratuities.
Italian sellers are very apt to demand a much higher price than
they will ultimately accept; but a knowledge of the custom, which
is based upon the presumed ignorance of one of the contracting par¬
ties, practically neutralises its effect. Where tariffs and fixed charges